Drivers stuck in  trenches of gloom
Slowdown: Traffic caught in roadworks at Wellington Street. Picture: Mogens Johansen/ The West Asutralian

Roadworks are everywhere.

They delay, they frustrate, they are almost impossible to avoid.

They have become the trenches on the battleground that Perth's road network has become. Every day, thousands of motorists enter the fray. Most end up mentally wounded. Some become numbed by the constant barrage.

For regular users of Great Eastern Highway, it's been a battle waged for over 18 months. But for city commuters, the Elizabeth Quay development represents a new offensive. And there is likely to be a fresh outbreak when work begins to add an extra lane to each side of the Graham Farmer tunnel.

The State Government says it is short-term pain for long-term gain.

But in order to cope with Perth's extraordinary population growth, it would seem that, as one project finishes, another begins. This week, thousands of city workers returning from Christmas holidays were greeted with heavy congestion and their first taste of more than a year of CBD delays caused by work on Elizabeth Quay.

Mounts Bay Road was cut from three lanes to one between Mill and William streets, causing peak-hour traffic to back up towards the freeway and Narrows Bridge.

The Government has estimated that the works will add about 10 minutes to peak-hour travel times. Many of the streets around the development will have lane closures and speed restrictions for most of 2013.

And, of course, as commuters seek to avoid the bottlenecks, traffic on other thoroughfares will increase.

Over on Great Eastern Highway, Perth's most expensive road upgrade - the $83 million-a-kilometre rebuild of the 4.2km section between Kooyong Road and Tonkin Highway - has looked like a war scene for more than a year.

The admirable goal of keeping at least two lanes open in each direction during peak-hour has seen motorists snake their way along, often moving from one side to the next.

A lot of the work is being done at night. But with less traffic at night, concerns have been raised that frustrated motorists are consistently exceeding the 40km/h speed limit, putting workers at more risk.

Transport Minister Troy Buswell said the roadworks were designed to improve Perth's transport network and reduce congestion.

The West Australian

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